Renee Wadsworth grew up in northeastern Shasta County. There are no stoplights, only a stop sign. She remembers what it was like to visit a health care provider.

“I remember I’d get someone that I liked, but then, they’d move away,” said Wadsworth, a second-year physician assistant (P.A.) student at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis.

Not only do rural areas have a tough time attracting and keeping providers, but rural residents often lack access to basic transportation. That experience sparked Wadsworth’s desire to attend UC Davis and become a P.A. who would, one day, return to a rural community similar to that in which she grew up.

Those dreams are also a major reason why Wadsworth, and 10 of her fellow UC Davis P.A. students, earned scholarships from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). The scholarships are awarded to students pursuing primary care health professions training, in return for a commitment to provide primary health services in a Health Professional Shortage Area.

“Being blessed with this scholarship opens my opportunities to any area, and I want to go to where I’m needed most,” said first-year P.A. student Mike Needham, who grew up in a rural area. “So many people have to travel 30 minutes up to two hours to see a provider. I want to cross that bridge and help those people.”

The scholarship pays for tuition and other education-related expenses, and also provides a monthly stipend to assist with living expenses.

This is the first time such a large number of School of Nursing first- and second-year P.A. students have earned the scholarships. The recipients, who join the more than 1,500 NHSC scholars nationwide, are:

  • Kristine Babayan
  • Aliyah Bell
  • Jesse Duro
  • Emmanuelle Ganzon
  • Mario Navarro
  • Michael Needham
  • Hieu Nguyen
  • Thuy Dung Nguyen
  • Leticia Garcia Reyes
  • Putue Teh
  • Renee Wadsworth

“We are so proud of these P.A. students,” said Stephen Cavanagh, School of Nursing dean. “We recognize the need for skilled, culturally competent professionals and have built a program that prepares leaders in a variety of settings.”

In alignment with the school’s vision to advance health, the P.A. program works to improve the availability of culturally relevant primary health care to underserved populations throughout California.

“I chose UC Davis because of its emphasis on primary care and rural care,” Wadsworth said. “Now, I really have the opportunity to live out my dreams and really help the people I wanted to help from the beginning.”